Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Drive Pace Truck For the Daytona 500

By Toby Christie, Editor (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)

Daytona International Speedway announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the honorary driver of the pace vehicle for the upcoming 61st-annual Daytona 500. Earnhardt will pace the field in a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. According to the release, this will be the first time that a truck has been the pace vehicle for The Great American Race.

Earnhardt of course, is one of the greatest drivers to ever race on the high-banks of Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt won two Daytona 500s (2004 and 2014) as well as two Coke Zero 400s (2001 and 2015). In all, Earnhardt won a total of 17 wins at the 2.5-mile speedway in all forms of events, which puts him third all-time in the track’s prestigious history.

“So much of Dale’s legacy was formed on those high banks. It will be an honor to have one of our greatest champions pace the DAYTONA 500,” said track president Chip Wiles in a press release.

In an 18-year career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Earnhardt amassed 26 victories, and he inside the top-five of the championship standings on four separare occasions (2003, 2004, 2006 and 2013). Earnhardt, a 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver, retired from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the 2017 season.

“Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s popularity is as strong as ever,” said Wile. “We know our fans will love seeing him return to the DIS high banks – even if he will be driving a good bit slower than what he’s used to at our track.”

The track will be running a special Dale Earnhardt Jr. ticket package for the Daytona 500. There are a limited amount of the special $288 packages available, and if you’ve already bought tickets to the race, you can upgrade to the package for an additional $139.

According to the press release, the ticket package can be purchased at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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Start Times Revealed for 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 16: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, takes the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series SouthPoint 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

By Toby Christie (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)

On Tuesday, NASCAR officially unveiled the start times, television channels and radio channels for the upcoming 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Later start times highlight the changes, as no race all season will begin before 2:00 PM ET.

16 of the 36 points paying races will be available on regular network television (FOX or NBC), while 20 of them will be available on cable affiliates (FS1 or NBCSN).

Those totals mean one less race will be on regular network television this year than in 2018.

Additionally, The Clash was the only race that started after 3PM ET on a Sunday on a non-holiday weekend. Eight more Sunday races will run in the 3PM ET or later slot during Sundays on non-holiday weekends in 2019.

In total, 11 races will start at a later time than they did a year ago. Only Kansas in May will start earlier than it did a year ago.

Here is the complete schedule of races with start times, television networks and radio networks:

Date Race Time (ET) TV Radio
Sunday, Feb 10, 2019 Daytona 500 qualifying 12:00 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, Feb 10, 2019 The Clash 3:00 PM FS1 MRN
Thursday, Feb 13, 2019 Duels at Daytona 7:00 PM FS1 MRN
Sunday, Feb 17, 2019 Daytona 500 2:30 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, Feb 24, 2019 Atlanta 2:00 PM FOX PRN
Sunday, Mar 03, 2019 Las Vegas 3:30 PM FOX PRN
Sunday, Mar 10, 2019 ISM Raceway 3:30 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, Mar 17, 2019 Auto Club Speedway 3:30 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, Mar 24, 2019 Martinsville 2:00 PM FS1 MRN
Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 Texas 3:00 PM FOX PRN
Sunday, Apr 07, 2019 Bristol 2:00 PM FS1 PRN
Saturday, Apr 13, 2019 Richmond 7:30 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, Apr 28, 2019 Talladega 2:00 PM FOX MRN
Sunday, May 05, 2019 Dover 2:00 PM FS1 MRN
Saturday, May 11, 2019 Kansas 7:30 PM FS1 MRN
Saturday, May 18, 2019 All-Star Open 6:00 PM FS1 MRN
Saturday, May 18, 2019 All-Star Race 8:00 PM FS1 MRN
Sunday, May 26, 2019 Charlotte 6:00 PM FOX PRN
Sunday, Jun 02, 2019 Pocono 2:00 PM FS1 MRN
Sunday, Jun 09, 2019 Michigan 2:00 PM FS1 MRN
Sunday, Jun 23, 2019 Sonoma 3:00 PM FS1 PRN
Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 Chicagoland 3:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 Daytona 7:30 PM NBC MRN
Saturday, Jul 13, 2019 Kentucky 7:30 PM NBCSN PRN
Sunday, Jul 21, 2019 New Hampshire 3:00 PM NBCSN PRN
Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 Pocono 3:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Aug 04, 2019 Watkins Glen 3:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 Michigan 3:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 Bristol 7:30 PM NBCSN PRN
Sunday, Sep 01, 2019 Darlington 6:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Sep 08, 2019 Indianapolis 2:00 PM NBC IMS
Sunday, Sep 15, 2019 Las Vegas 7:00 PM NBCSN PRN
Saturday, Sep 21, 2019 Richmond 7:30 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Sep 28, 2019 Roval 2:30 PM NBC PRN
Sunday, Oct 06, 2019 Dover 2:30 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Oct 13, 2019 Talladega 2:00 PM NBC MRN
Sunday, Oct 20, 2019 Kansas 2:30 PM NBC MRN
Sunday, Oct 27, 2019 Martinsville 3:00 PM NBCSN MRN
Sunday, Nov 03, 2019 Texas 3:00 PM NBCSN PRN
Sunday, Nov 10, 2019 ISM Raceway 2:30 PM NBC MRN
Sunday, Nov 17, 2019 Homestead Miami 3:00 PM NBC MRN

Review / Preview: Ty Dillon

By Toby Christie, Editor (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)

For Ty Dillon, 2018 was a story of firsts. It was his first year with Matt Borland as his crew chief at Germain Racing. He recorded his first 13th-place-or-better finish at a 1.5-mile speedway (Texas in the spring). And Dillon also snagged his first-career top-10 finish by finishing sixth at in July’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

There is a lot for Dillon and his Germain Racing team to be thankful for. But they also still have plenty of room to improve, as inconsistency plagued the No. 13 team all year long.

The 26-year-old driver failed to finish inside the top-20 in any of the first six races of the season. So things got off to a bumpy start, and they didn’t improve a whole lot as the season progressed. By season’s end, Dillon had registered just seven top-20 finishes in 36 starts.

However, one of his best races of the season came at Martinsville during the 10-race Playoff stretch.

Dillon rolled off the grid in the 23rd position, but he would not remain mired deep in the field. By the mid-way point of the race the North Carolina native had worked his way to 11th, and it looked like a second-career top-10 finish was in the cards.

Dillon would work his way as high up as sixth before ultimately fading to finish 15th in the closing laps, but it was an eye-opening performance for the team that had struggled mightily for the majority of the 2018 season.

“We have been building on this thing and getting better and better each week and Martinsville is a place we knew that we could get more and more competitive and kind of jump ourselves,” Dillon said. “We really executed well we had a great race car the GEICO Camaro was great. I’m proud of the effort and I’m proud of the way we are building these Camaros to get better and better each week. So, hopefully we can roll this momentum into Texas and finish out the year strong.”

For an upstart team still trying to find solid footing in the series 2018 certainly wasn’t a bad effort. But they need to keep taking steps forward.

The team has a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which should stay intact going into 2019. And another year of tinkering with the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Cup Series body should help the entire Chevrolet camp, Germain Racing included.

GEICO Insurance returns as the sponsor of the No. 13 team again this season and all signs point to not much changing for this team this season. Hopefully another year of continuity for Dillon and Borland will elevate the performance of the team.

Borland has scored 13 victories as a crew chief in 317 races atop the pit box. This includes an impressive eight win effort as Ryan Newman’s crew chief in 2003. Borland knows how to turn the wrenches. And Dillon, a former ARCA champion, knows how to turn the wheel. Perhaps they can get the ship righted and have a break-out season in 2019.

Review / Preview: Matt DiBenedetto

By Toby Christie, Editor (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)

Matt DiBenedetto’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was another positive step in the right direction for a driver looking to make his mark on this sport. Sure, his overall box score and championship points ranking (29th) aren’t super impressive on paper, but what DiBenedetto did for the small GoFas Racing organization was a good effort. Continue reading “Review / Preview: Matt DiBenedetto”

Friends and Peers Throw Surprise Retirement Party for Kasey Kahne

By Toby Christie (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)

Although Kasey Kahne didn’t have a year-long celebration of his career coupled with fun and obnoxious retirement gifts from race tracks, and he did not get a big send off at the NASCAR Awards Banquet — as has been common place for recent retirement announcements by Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — that didn’t stop some of Kahne’s family, friends and fellow racers from throwing a surprise retirement party for the 18-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner on Thursday night.

In a photo Tweeted by Kasey Kahne’s dirt racing team, you can certainly spot several heavy hitters in the NASCAR world. Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Darian Grubb and Kenny Francis were among those who attended the event. Continue reading “Friends and Peers Throw Surprise Retirement Party for Kasey Kahne”